North Sinai police chief was sacked on Sunday after three policemen were killed by gunmen yesterday in the northern city of al-Arish.
The dismissal followed a meeting between the interior and defense minsters with the police protesters, who sieged the Security Directorate building late Saturday in response to the accident.
The minister of interior accepted the policemen’s calls of assigning General Samih Bashadi as North Sinai’s new police chief, replacing Major General Ahmad Bakr, according to an Egyptian news website.
Meanwhile, Egypt’s defense minister arrived in Sinai Sunday morning to review the security measures in the peninsula.
Both minsters met with Sinai’s police and military members, along with the peninsula’s tribal leaders, to convince police protesters to resume their job and have listed to their complains, the website reported.
On Saturday, a number of Egyptian policemen protested in front of North Sinai's Arish Security Directorate after gunmen attacked a police patrol and shot three officers earlier on the day.
The protesters later blocked the Arish-Rafah road as well as other critical roads in the peninsula, according to Egypt Independent.
Protesters said they have been left “without protection to face militants’ attacks,” reported the newspaper.
The demonstrating policemen left their locations and sieged the Security Directorate building.
The policemen blamed the country’s ministry of interior for not combating armed gangs in the peninsula, saying they are not allowed to take any action against gunmen without direct instructions from the ministry.
A group of revolutionary youth gathered in front the North Sinai governorate late on Saturday to support the police protest. The group called for firing the current governor and dismissing the minister of interior.
Militants suspected in Sinai’s Saturday attacks
A security source said on Saturday that the three policemen were probably attacked by militants who, Egyptian forces have been hunting since the ambush killing of 16 border guards on Aug. 5, the biggest security crackdown Sinai has seen in decades.
“Armed men who might belong to a jihadist group attacked a police vehicle and fired on its passengers before fleeing,” he told AFP.
Two policemen died at the scene of the attack on the suburbs of al-Arish, the administrative center of North Sinai, while one of the other two injured died at the hospital later after the attack, medical and security sources said.
The Aug. 5 attack - the deadliest in Sinai since Egypt’s 1973 war with Israel - prompted the government to send in hundreds of troops backed by tanks, armored vehicles and helicopters in a joint operation with police to raid militant hideouts, arrest suspects and seize weapons.
Efforts to impose central authority in the lawless desert region are complicated by the indigenous Bedouin population's ingrained hostility to the government in Cairo.